By Kaissa Denis
When I was a college student, social media tools like Twitter were just picking up steam and smartphones were becoming affordable. I saw first hand how traditional campus activities like Student Government Association elections or annual organizational fundraisers, could be enhanced with new digital outreach tools. Bon voyage to the days where word of mouth, tabling, paper flyers, and newspapers were your only options–now with digital tools, you can reach new audiences.
These days, it’s increasingly crucial to use new social media outreach tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, to reach larger audiences, both young and not so young. Here are the top 3 reasons why it’s important to incorporate new outreach tools in your next outreach campaign.
1) Everybody and Their Mama is on Social Media
Yes, it’s official: EVERYBODY uses social media. We know social media can sometimes be used for both good and evil (how many of us have suffered the scorn of an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend on Facebook), but let’s focus on the positive. On Facebook alone, there are over 1 billion users. Millions of people use Twitter as an avenue to engage and stay up to date on the latest news. Social media can provide an organization a great opportunity to engage not only their target audience but also reach an entire new audience. An event can be shared with thousands just by creating a simple Facebook invitation. People on one coast can follow a conversation taking place on the other coast with the simple search of a hashtag on Twitter.
So if you haven’t yet, it’s time to get hip and include something like a Twitter Chat to your up-coming presentation! A Twitter Chat is a great way to have a nationwide conversation on Twitter. All you need to do is create a hashtag (#) that pertains to conversation. For example, Young Invincibles has had several Twitter Chats with partner organizations about the impact of the Affordable Care Act on young adults using the hashtag #GetCovered (Nervous?! No worries, we have toolkits available!)
2) Smartphones Are Soooo In! It’s Time to Use Mobile Technology!
These days, most people in the United States don’t just have phones, but smartphones. (56% of all US adults according to Pew Reseach Center). We all know somebody’s seven-year-old cousin who just received the iPhone 5S for her birthday. Meanwhile, I think back to a time when it was big deal to have a phone line in my own room (yes, I’m that old!). We’ve grown so dependent on our smartphones, using them for day-to-day things, such as checking email, browsing the web, and finding local area doctors (have you checked out our recently revamped Mobile App yet?!).
One easy way you can tap into this new technology is by making sure your website has a mobile friendly version so people can easily access your page while on the go. If you want to get fancy, text campaigns and mobile apps are great tools to push your campaign and fundraising outreach. Remember the massive hurricane in Haiti in 2010? Organizations such as the Red Cross were able to raise over FIVE million dollars to benefit earthquake victims through their text campaign.
3) New Outreach Tools Can Be Really Cost-Effective!
Let’s face it – we can’t all afford to plug our organizations or causes during the Superbowl, much less public access channels. With a $100 budget, you can advertise on Facebook and Twitter and reach out to hundreds of thousands of individuals. For example, you can create a simple advertisement that will appear on people’s Facebook newsfeed similar to your friend’s status updates. The cool thing about Facebook ads is that you have the opportunity to fine tune and select your target audience’s location, age, and school. It’s not as creepy as it sounds! On a tiny budget, an organization of any size can run an impressive campaign and still pay their interns!
Organizations such as Red Cross, Oxfam, and Change.org have been able to successfully connect and move young adults to take action using new outreach tools. Now is the time is the to adapt! If you want to learn more about how to use these tools to get the word out about health care, check out our toolkits for Facebook, Twitter and SMS messaging.